Homelessness Is Just Another Excuse Trump Pushes To Punish California (Video)

Then they came for the homeless.

Under the guise of “environmental violation“–citing needles and waste–the Trump administration has threatened to use police to remove the homeless.

Last month, Trump told a pool reporter aboard Air Force One that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would within a week put San Francisco, Calif. on notice because of supposed used hypodermic needles flowing through the city’s storm drains into the Pacific ocean.

San Francisco officials, however, insist this is untrue because the city’s Public Utilities Commission catch basins trap storm drain debris, and its two treatment facilities process any unfiltered runoff or pollutants.

San Francisco Mayor, London Breed, explained:

“To be clear, San Francisco has a combined sewer system, one of the best and most effective in the country, that ensures that all debris that flow into storm drains are filtered out at the city’s wastewater treatment plants. No debris flow out into the bay or the ocean.”

The Coalition on Homelessness organizer for human rights, Kelley Cutler, stated:

“This is the president of the United States that is putting out this nonsense and social stigma. He has a massive audience and he is putting out this narrative that is very concerning. This can’t be something we just dismiss.”

Activists argue Trump’s latest assault is nothing but nimbyism–“Not In My Backyard.”

Trump was referring to a Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) report prior to his California visit last week.

That report states:

“Policing may be an important tool to help move people off the street and into shelter or housing where they can get the services they need.”

It adds that half of all unsheltered homeless people live in California, and allowing the homeless to sleep in the streets increases the homeless population.

However, much research shows criminalization of homelessness, particularly their arrest, is ineffective and expensive since it makes it more difficult to obtain housing; it can also leave them with criminal records and fees.

The CEA report actually acknowledges this:

“Policies intended solely to arrest or jail homeless people simply because they are homeless are inhumane and wrong.”

Osha Neumann, a civil rights lawyer with the East Bay Community Law Center and advocate for the homeless in northern California, criticized the president’s “tough on homelessness” stance requiring more policing:

“This approach contributes to the problem rather than solving. The idea that we can criminalize our way out of a crisis that is the result of the failure of the system to provide basic human needs for a large percent of our population is ridiculous.”

29-year-old Kourtney Milligan, who has lived on the streets for nine months, said outside the Downtown Women’s Center:

“It’s very aggressive and very hateful. How about we just find a solution? A lot of people who are homeless have been abused and hurt. We need solutions.”

Affordable housing is a solution.

Osha Neumann said threatening a law enforcement crackdown is “consistent with the general approach of the administration–to cause as much pain and suffering as possible to people who are desperately seeking refuge.”

He added:

“They do it on the border, and now they are proposing to do it in the cities.”

Predictably, as with Donald Trump’s growing list of targets, this recent demonization of the homeless is leaving them susceptible to assault.

The homeless and their advocates are reporting a rise in vigilante attacks.

Even though the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) doesn’t maintain records of vigilante attacks against the homeless, statistics indicate the homeless are more likely to be victims of crimes ranging from verbal insults and objects like televisions being hurled at them to arson intended to obliterate their encampments.

39-year-old homeless woman, Rita Dunn, explained:

“A lot of people are frustrated, a lot of people from the community are losing their own housing as we speak, as rents continue to skyrocket and we continue to do nothing about that. Then they’re afraid, and they think, ‘Oh my God, it’s because of us’.”

Homelessness is a national problem rooted in economic inequality that afflicts every state in the nation.

So why might Donald Trump be singling out California?

Some could argue it’s because California has the highest homelessness rate at 129,972, according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).

But California is also the most populated state in the nation (with a lot of brown-skinned immigrants), and Trump has not mentioned Texas or Florida–the second and third most populated–in his diatribe.

Could it be because California is the most Democratic state in the union and Florida and Texas overwhelmingly vote Republican?

Trump recently lashed out against the Golden State, accusing it of “gross mismanagement,” and warned its progressive approach to immigration has “put the entire nation at risk.”

He called Hollywood “racist…really terrible.”

Last month, Trump announced he was revoking the state’s ability to establish tough auto-emissions standards.

So much for those “states’ rights” Republicans are always invoking when confronted with “Socialist” policies they attribute to “big-government” Democrats.

Republican pollster Whit Ayres confirmed as much when he stated:

“It’s a freebie for Trump. It’s not like California’s going to turn around and vote Republican anytime in the future. This is part of the messaging that Republicans have used for years to send a signal to the rest of the country that I’m on your side, not on their side.”

This feigned compassion for San Francisco’s homeless population is just another in a long line of Trump’s rhetorical smears against his perceived political enemies.

A good president would work to get legislation passed to reduce the economic inequities allowing homelessness to grow.

Trump, of course, doesn’t care about the homeless.

He cares merely about scoring cheap political points with the 43 percent of those who support him.

Image credit: myjourneywithdepression.wordpress.com

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.